In April 2012 a group of donors and activists came together to talk about setting up a new fund which would support social change work as well as actively working to break down power dynamics in funding. Our approach is based on democracy, accountability and transparency and funding grassroots activism for systemic change. By January 2013 we’d raised over £100,000, became registered as a Community Benefit Society and had our first 15 members.
During our first accounting year we ran three funding rounds, agreeing grants totalling £120,000. We worked hard to develop our very own process for distributing funds which involves donors, activists, community organisers and the applicants themselves. After each funding round we asked both members and applicants to give feedback on the process so that we could improve it the next time. A particular focus has been on being accountable to people with lived experience of the issues who would potentially be affected by us funding an application, for example, we try to ensure that disabled people in our membership have the first say when it comes to funding applications relating to disability.
Our new approach to grant-making has started to attract the attention of others in the philanthropy field and we were asked to speak at several events, such as Environmental Funders Network effectiveness workshop, University of Kent’s Social Justice Philanthropy Conference and London School of Economics Re-claiming Democracy in the Square: Recent Social Movements and Civil Society Activism event. We also had several articles published online and in print and have started working with other funders with similar values. Through this work we aim to promote our model of grant-making.
Since the organisation was founded the structure of Edge Fund has develop ed from a small team of 15 initial members to over 100 members. We have several Working Groups working on topics such as communications and fundraising and a Facilitating Group which oversees the fund’s operations and keeps things moving on. We have a part-time paid co-ordinator but all other members give their time voluntarily. All our members have an equal say, whether they have donated to the fund or not. We aim to be inclusive and to support members to take part, for example, we cover costs of getting to meetings where needed.
For the future our aims are to focus on improving representation of different communities within the membership to ensure the organisation is led by people with first hand experience of the issues we aim to address, to raise more funds and improve our processes. Our funding process brings people together who may not cross paths otherwise; we hope to build on this and develop ways to enable Edge members and grantees to learn from and support each other across issues and movements. We also have plans for building relevant skills within the membership itself.
|Summary of finances – 14 Jan 2013 to 31 Jan 2014|
|Grants paid out||£108,370|